Go greener with your restaurant’s takeout containers

Consumers are looking to connect with businesses that align with their values and sustainability is top of mind for many diners who want to see greener practices from their favourite restaurants. Studies show that 66 per cent of consumers take sustainability into consideration when making a purchase, and diners are willing to pay up to 10 per cent more for eco-friendly options.

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As operators move forward, sustainability needs to be a priority when looking at their takeout packaging. There are a few factors restaurants need to consider when making the move to greener packaging while continuing to offer guests an exceptional experience:

  • Keeping food at its intended temperature is crucial to the customer experience. Diners do not want warm salad and cold soup, so mastering the art of insulation is necessary so that your food reaches your guests at the optimal temperature.
  • Spilling, leaking, or making any sort of mess is a turn-off to guests, detracting from their experience and leaving a negative impression about your restaurant and your food. Look for containers that will properly hold the items on your menu – this consideration may also help you develop a takeout menu that’s easily transported. You may also want to send sauces separately in their own containers to help reduce the risk of spilling and soggy food for your guests.
  • Cost can also be an issue when looking to replace plastic containers with greener options. Compare options, scale down the variety of containers your dishes require, and get creative in re-couping the additional expense.
  • Set your environmental goals before you get started. Do you want to use recycled material? Compostable options? Biodegradable containers? These considerations may also affect your budget, so getting an idea of your goals can help you make smart decisions for your business.

According to the United States  Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) food packaging, straws and drink cups are responsible for 45 per cent of the waste at landfills and contribute about 15 per cent of the planet’s methane emissions. These days, there are lots of options to get your packaging greener, from plant-based plastics to bamboo to palm leaves, along with containers made from recycled material and beyond.

54 per cent of consumers would prefer to order from restaurants with less food packaging and 56 per cent would choose a restaurant with sustainable packaging over one with single-use plastic. Do some research to determine which options best meet your needs and your budget as you move forward.

Beyond swapping out plastic takeout containers for more eco-friendly options, there are some simple steps operators can take to further lower their off-premise carbon footprint:

  • Rather than automatically including plastic cutlery, napkins, and extra sauces, ask customers whether they need these items. This practice will cut costs for restaurants and save the extra plastic going into the garbage or recycling.
  • Reduce excess packaging. Rather than using three layers of wrapping (i.e. foil, box, bag) determine if there is a better system to cut down on the packaging to save money and the environment.
  • Often, restaurants include marketing material with their takeout orders. While this may be an effective form of communication, if it is not yielding results, there may be a better (and more environmentally friendly) way to spend those advertising dollars.
  • Consolidate your deliveries wherever you can to cut carbon emissions and reduce delivery times.

Consumers are looking for more sustainability from the businesses they frequent and restaurants are no exception. 43 per cent of diners said they would pay more for sustainable takeout, so taking steps to get greener with your off-premise dining means happier customers, higher revenues, and a healthier planet.